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Mindset change needed

COVID-19 has provided a reset button – there is now an opportunity for township tourism SMMEs to start things they hadn’t been able to do before, and provide more for the tourism scene in Tshwane.

This was highlighted during the Township Tourism SMME Recovery Strategies webinar hosted by the Tshwane Economic Development Agency.

The webinar focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on township tourism and small, medium and micro enterprises, and what strategies from government and industry could be leveraged as the tourism sector prepares to reopen.

Director of Hauweng Business Service, Beulah Mosupye, said there were always challenges facing township tourism businesses before COVID-19 and business in this part of the industry needed to take this opportunity to overcome them and grow.

 “Local tourism organisations (LTOs) will continue to play a pivotal role in the industry in the post-COVID-19 South Africa.”

Mosupye said there needed to be better structures between township stakeholders that could plug into LTOs to ensure that all parts of the destination were seen.

“There’s been a conscious shift that, if people are going to travel, it must be in a sustainable way where, at a destination level, inclusivity can be seen clearly to deliver an authentic experience. That cannot be done without township tourism.”

Seeza Tourism SME Network founder, Septi Bukula, said township tourism had to be brought to the forefront and there needed to be a mindset change across the industry on this tourism sector.

“We need to rethink our market visibility and maximise it. I have been very impressed by the aggressive marketing done by Vilakazi Street. I know more about it than I did pre-COVID-19,” said Bukula.

“There can be no doubt that business models will have to change, even at a township tourism level. Technology has been emphasised even more during this time and virtual reality is growing in popularity.”

The panellists agreed that better visibility of township tourism businesses was needed to the domestic market while international borders remained closed, and was key to its recovery. Bukula said there were stories about South Africa’s townships that weren’t being told and could be developed into product offerings.

“We need to develop product offerings, not just for international tourists but for our own people. With intra-provincial travel the only travel allowed at this time, it’s important to start now to captivate that market for the long-term.”

COVID-19 has provided a reset button – there is now an opportunity for township tourism SMMEs to start things they hadn’t been able to do before, and provide more for the tourism scene in Tshwane.

Source: Tourism Update

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